Categories: Academics

The Best Tips On Preparing For Finals In 2021

Do you need help preparing for finals? Do you hate studying? Does the anxiety of finals week feel like you’re being crushed by your own future as you’re slowly buried alive by the cascading soil of potential failure? Finals week is always going to be stressful, but there are a number of ways by which you can set yourself up for success on your exams. Finish the semester off the right way by reminding yourself of these helpful tips.

1. Get Some Sleep, Dummy

The most obvious tip of them all is perhaps the one that gets ignored the most. The unhealthily easy tendency is to pull all-nighters in the lead up to finals week. We know it’s a bad idea, yet we do it anyway.

If you’re not getting sufficient sleep at night, it might not matter how much you crammed into your brain at 5 in the morning, because when it’s time to actually prove what you learned, you won’t be able to extract any knowledge out of your sleep-deprived brain. Don’t stay up late, and do everything in your power to ensure a good night’s rest. 

2. Remove All Distractions

Regardless of where you choose to do your studying, it is essential that you rid yourself of any and all distractions. Put your phone on silent and keep it at a safe distance. If there’s a noisy crowd nearby, put on some noise-canceling headphones or just get out of there. If there’s a TV in your study spot, make sure you keep it off. You may think you can compartmentalize it as simply background noise, but next thing you know you’re two episodes deep into “The Real Housewives Of New Jersey” and missing some brain cells.

3. Study Early And Often

Rise and grind. One of the most powerful tools on a learner’s belt is repetition. It is not enough to simply cram all the info into your head in one session. No, you need to beat it all into your brain gradually and continuously. You have to resist the seductive urge of procrastination in order to commit the information into long-term memory. Only then can you be sure to excel on your exams and possibly even retain the information after the class has ended. You know, if that sort of thing appeals to you.

4. Vary Your Study Location

Stagnation needs to be actively avoided in all aspects of one’s life, and studying is no exception. If you study in the same spot every single time, an already boring activity is somehow going to feel even less interesting. If you change your spot up every now and then, you’ll feel revitalized each time, even if only a little. Plus, if you frequently hit the books in your bedroom, you’ll associate what is supposed to be a sacred area with scholastic frustration, and you don’t want that. 

5. Eat Well And Stay Hydrated

Yet another highly conspicuous yet too often ignored tip, living a healthy lifestyle is advantageous in many ways. If you fuel your body well, you’ll feel better physically and have an easier time focusing. If you fill it with garbage, or, perhaps worse yet, not at all, you’re going to struggle staying on task. Express caution when going for energy drinks. Do you really need wings for studying, or did their marketing campaign get to you?

6. Study With Others (If Possible)

It’s hard to know what you don’t know. Identifying gaps in your knowledge becomes much easier when there are other people with you. By attempting to teach others, you demonstrate to yourself the true breadth of your knowledge. Having others around can help you see the material in new ways.

Other people can also make the experience far less painful, but it’s important to not let them become distractions, either. Studying with your best friend might not be the move. Find a workplace proximity associate if you can.

7. Take Breaks

We live in a binge society. The compulsion to simply keep going until the task is absolutely finished is ingrained deep within us. The problem with that is it often means diminishing returns as you approach your goal, and studying has no explicit endpoint anyway. If you just keep pushing without giving yourself a breather, you’re only going to make yourself feel worse, and you’ll get less out of your sessions. Leave some room for intermittent down time. It’s not a bad idea to set an alarm every hour or so to remind yourself to give it a rest for a bit.

8. Prepare For The Specific Type Of Exam

You need to know which exam is which and prepare accordingly for each. For example, flashcards might be more useful for a second language exam than a lab practical. Additionally, the means of the exam are significant as well. Is it going to be in-person or online? Multiple choice or free-response? Knowing what you’re in for and preparing accordingly makes you’re studying more efficient and can help ease your anxiety, assuming your professor doesn’t throw you an unexpected curveball on test day.

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9. Don’t Be Afraid Of Office Hours

If one-on-one time with your professor is available, take advantage of it. Whether you can actually meet in person or via Zoom, receiving personalized instruction can do wonders for your understanding of the material. It’s important to remember that teaching is their literal job. If it feels like you’re bothering them, that’s on them, not you. 

10. Conceptualize, Not Memorize

Memorizing lists of terms is an important step, but it’s not enough. You need to try your hardest to actually understand the information you’re regurgitating. It’ll make the regurgitation much easier. Focus on comprehension, not pure memorization. Chances are that if you truly understand the bigger picture, the smaller puzzle pieces will fall into place.

11. Make A Good Study Playlist

Many studies have been done regarding music’s impact on the brain, but there really isn’t one type of music that’s best for every person. Classical music tends to get held in high regard for this purpose, but what if you hate it? That’s not going to help anyone, then. Cater a playlist specifically to your tastes. Curate songs that will keep your spirits up without distracting you. Avoid the bangers. Find songs that are the elevator music to your soul.

12. Treat Yourself

Establish a reward for yourself at the end of your study sessions. Start with something small, like your favorite snack. Then, plan a bigger prize for when finals week is over. Brainstorm an even bigger bounty if you do well enough on every exam. The entire process will feel much more bearable if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and through that light is a new phone or something.

Good luck preparing for finals this semester and every semester. They never really get less unpleasant, do they? Were these tips helpful at all? What are some of your go-to tips for studying? Let us know!

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Brian Beushausen

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